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Tight Council Race Too Early to Call
By Jorge Casuso
November 4, 2020 -- Three challengers and an incumbent are leading in a hotly contested race for four City Council seats that is still too early to call.
As of 2:07 a.m., Challenger Phil Brock was the top vote getter among 21 candidates with 15,155 votes, followed by incumbent Councilmember Gleam Davis with 15,113 votes.
Fewer than 650 votes separated the other four leading contenders -- challengers Christine Parra (14,176 votes) and Oscar de la Torre (13,707) and Council members Terry O'Day (13,688) and Ted Winterer (13,531).
Councilmember Ana Jara was in seventh place with 12,531 votes, followed by challenger Mario Fonda-Bonardi with 9,903 votes.
But an expected surge of uncounted ballots could quickly upset the order that was already reshuffled once since the polls closed.
As of Monday, 60 percent of the 72,200 ballots mailed to Santa Monica voters had been returned to the LA County Registrar, leaving 28,856 ballots remaining.
It is not known how many of the 43,344 ballots that have been returned are included in the early morning tally or how many votes were cast at polling places, said City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren.
In the 2018 Council race -- in which voter turnout was far lower than this year -- Himmelrich was the top vote getter with 23,419 votes.
The LA County Registrar is not expected to update the results until later this afternoon, Anderson-Warren said.
The other local races are far safer to call.
In the race for three School Board seats, incumbents Jon Kean (with 19,455 votes) and Maria-Leon Vazquez (18,392) and challenger Jen Smith (15,554) seem headed for victory.
The closest contender, Jason K. Feldman was a distant fourth with 11,124 votes.
In the race for three College Board seats, incumbents Susan Aminoff (26,777 votes), Margaret Quinones-Perez (25,789 and Rob Rader (23,003) had a more than 10,000 vote lead on challenger Brian O'Neal (12,410 votes).
While in the race for two Rent Control Board seats, incumbents Caroline M. Torosis (with 21,651 votes) and Anastasia Foster (20,687) lead the nearest challenger by more than 11,000 votes.
Two local ballot initiatives -- Measures SM and AB -- were headed to easy victories with about 73 and 61 percent of the vote respectively. The measures need a simple majority to pass.
SM would boost Santa Monica's "luxury" real estate tax to help fund municipal services, while AB would amend the City Charter to help diversify the municipal workforce.
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